- More data needed to unlock the potential of artificial intelligence
- Scheme aims to boost data sharing through trust, giving more control to citizens and companies
- MEPs secured specific provisions to ensure fair access and stimulate voluntary data sharing
On Wednesday, MEPs backed new legislation to increase the availability of data for start-ups and businesses to stimulate innovation.
The Data Governance Act (DGA), agreed with Council in November 2021, aims to increase trust in data sharing, create new EU rules on the neutrality of data marketplaces, and facilitate the reuse of certain data held by the public sector. It will set up common European data spaces in strategic domains such as health, the environment, energy, agriculture, mobility, finance, manufacturing, public administration, and skills.
In negotiations with EU ministers, MEPs ensured there were no loopholes that would allow operators from non-EU countries to abuse the scheme. They did this by strengthening provisions on trust and fair access. Parliament also secured precise requirements on which services will fall under the new DGA.
Data altruism to support research, healthcare, fight climate change
MEPs pushed to make the most of data made available voluntarily for objectives of general interest, such as scientific research, healthcare, combating climate change or improving mobility. Trusted data-sharing services will be more visible and use a common European logo certifying their compliance with the DGA.
Public sector bodies will have to avoid creating exclusive rights for the re-use of certain data, and exclusive agreements should be limited to a period of 12 months for new contracts, and two and a half years for existing ones, to make more data available to SMEs and start-ups.
“Our goal with the DGA is to set the foundation for a data economy in which people and businesses can trust. Data sharing can only flourish if trust and fairness are guaranteed, stimulating new business models and social innovation. Experience has shown that trust – be it trust in privacy or in the confidentiality of valuable business data – is a paramount issue. The Parliament insisted on a clear scope, making sure that the credo of trust is inscribed in the future of Europe’s data economy”, said lead MEP Angelika Niebler (EPP, DE).
“We are at the beginning of the age of AI and Europe will require more and more data. This legislation should make it easy and safe to tap into the rich data silos spread all over the EU. The data revolution will not wait for Europe. We need to act now if European digital companies want to have a place among the world’s top digital innovators”, she added.
The text was approved by Parliament with 501 votes to 12, with 40 abstentions. It will now have to be formally adopted by Council before it is published in the Official Journal and enters into force.
According to estimates by the European Commission, the amount of data generated by public bodies, businesses and citizens will multiply five-fold between 2018 and 2025. These new rules would allow the data to be used, paving the way for sectoral European data spaces to benefit society, citizens and companies.